It is not only ERISA practitioners and plan administrators who have been watching Tibble v. Edison International with interest, but trustees as well. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and "in doing so, the Court did not signal whether it would address the continuing-violation theory espoused by plaintiffs, or the policy concerns underpinning the Ninth Circuit’s decision. The Supreme Court bypassed these issues. Instead, it vacated the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, and remanded for additional consideration of the fiduciaries’ ongoing duty to monitor the prudence of the... funds. The Court couched its decision in traditional trust law, which requires a “regular review” of trust investments. The Court also found support in the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA), which the Court viewed as embracing a continuing duty to monitor plan investments."
Unsurprisingly, the Court did not provide guidance on how to evaluate those duties, except to hold that “'changed circumstances' (that is, circumstances that would render an otherwise-prudent investment imprudent) was not the only scenario in which a fiduciary’s failure to re-evaluate investments might run afoul..."
"Nevertheless, plan administrators [and trustees] should keep an eye on the proceedings on remand, to see how the Ninth Circuit’s decision applies [the] monitoring duty to defendants’ retention of the... funds... Although periodic re-evaluation of all plan investments is already a “best practice,” the decision on remand may offer guidance on particular circumstances that call for fiduciary scrutiny of specific investments."
UPIA Section 7 requires that trustees “may only incur costs that are appropriate and reasonable in relation to the assets, purpose of the trust, and skills of the trustee.” Case Law also reveals that premiums are not the measure of policy costs. As the Tribble case above illustrates the importance of measuring the costs of life insurance and also reviewing these costs periodically to make sure that the expectations of the policy are being realized and any unexpected changes are revealed.
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